Shortly after publication of the 1933 Methodist Hymn Book, Dr W.R. Maltby arranged a retreat for organists and choir masters, from which emerged in 1935 the MCMS 'to cultivate and co-ordinate all the musical resources of Methodism in public worship'. Its first secretary was the Rev. Edgar C. Barton and its committee was chaired by Dr F. Luke Wiseman. The Methodist Conference of 1948 gave it official status. In 1974 it became part of the Division of Ministries and in the 1990s became an independent organisation and a registered charity.
One of the first developments, the annual conference, has continued, apart from the war years, until the present. Choirs and organists, very much in evidence in the 1930s, were at the centre of the Society's work; and the annual conference always included the rehearsal and singing of a major choral work. Some conferences have been shared with the Local Preachers' Department, partners in 'Creative Arts' and the official music bodies of other denominations. The annual summer school, 'Youth Makes Music', was initiated in 1964 in partnership with MAYC and has expanded to include dance and drama. More recent initiatives include the British Methodist Youth Choir (1982) and the National Organ Advisory Service, joined in 1993 by an Organ Training Scheme and more recently by a training scheme for 'Leaders of Music in Worship'.
In 2010 the Society, along with the performing arts and visual arts became part of the newly formed ArtServe.
See also Westbrook, F.B.